The Hail Mary (NFL DFS): Week 1 WEEKEND UPDATE (9/9)
September 1, 2016 | Doug Shain
The Huddle – Opening Statement (I will try to keep this relatively short most weeks, but this week we’ll go a little longer)
Welcome to the WEEKEND UPDATE of the first edition of the 2016 Hail Mary for Week 1. For those of you who read this article last year or any of my stuff on The Fake Hockey and The Fake Baseball you’re going to find this article very familiar. For those of you who are new please allow me to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from and what you’re going to see in this article. On normal weeks I will be posting FIRST LOOK articles early in the week and then WEEKEND UPDATE by Friday or Saturday of each week. Everything that I’ve added or changed from the first article to the second will be in bolded italics, just like this sentence. Because this article has been posted for a few weeks and went through a few revisions, I’m going to scrap all my old commentary and just start fresh.
First and foremost I’m mostly a GPP player and that’s who this article is mostly designed to help. I write for players like me – the guy or gal who enters a single bullet in a couple of low limit GPP’s each week; the casual DFS player. This group of players probably makes up a much larger percentage of the DFS community than you think. If you are a cash game player or a high buy-in/high volume/multi-entry GPP player you should still read this because it’ll give you an everyman perspective that you might not get in other articles (there are plenty of those on this site and I urge you to read them as well because they are fantastic).
Be advised that playing a single bullet in a large field GPP is a very volatile game and you’re going to lose more often than you win. That’s a fact and it’s something you have to know before you start playing. Due to the volatility of this game I’m going to try to give you plays that can help you zoom to the top of your GPP leaderboard. These plays are very boom or bust, so please know that going in.
One way that I like to separate from the field is by trying to anticipate ownership rates of certain players. Over the course of the year I’ll get into this more deeply, but just know for now that all things being equal (and even in some cases when it’s not), I’m going to recommend the player that’s going to have a lower ownership rate.
In my mind there are two groups of people who play in large field GPP’s that dictate ownership percentages. One group is the true amateurs who are just going to play for fun and not put too much time into making optimal lineups. We’re going to call them “MOST PEOPLE” – they’ll be referred to as Public Players (or Casual Players). Most people don’t do the DFS thing for a living or for higher stakes and they are going to play players they know and like. They’re not going to dig deep and look for Charles Sims and Michael Thomas (yes, that’s digging deep for MOST PEOPLE). They are going to target very well-known players like Andrew Luck, Antonio Brown, and Todd Gurley. These well-known players aren’t going to change much and should have a fairly high ownership every single week regardless of matchup.
The other group of players that play in large field GPP’s are people who follow every fantasy expert on Twitter, watch all the fantasy shows on TV, and are up to date on all the big “sleepers” (there is no such thing anymore as sleepers). We will refer to these players as DFS EXPERTS. They are hip to the ins and outs of DFS, they are well-informed, and they are going to win by playing their big sleepers like Coby Fleener. What’s that you say? Everyone who’s ever read anything about fantasy knows that Fleener is cheap, is in a great situation, and has a great matchup in Week 1? No kidding, and he’s going to be really highly owned. Like I said, there are no sleepers. Change Fleener to Dak Prescott and you’ve got an updated version of the analogy.
My goal is to try to find players that don’t fit either of these two categories. I want to find guys that’ll be low owned and could have a good game (I call them HuLo players – High Upside, Low Ownership). These players tend to either be “boring” veterans, very risky plays, or players who are overshadowed by bigger names on their teams. For example, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of people who are talking about Matthew Stafford for Week 1. I think he could be a part of a GPP-winning team. Do I think he will be the highest scoring QB in Week 1? No, I think that’ll be Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, but I do think he can return significant value and is priced in such a way that you can field a winning lineup with him as your QB. Fantasy is all about you finding the value that your opponents didn’t.
I have some “musts” when I set my GPP lineups. I’ll highlight those as I go through the explanation of how I built my teams.
– It is a must that I get a QB that is going to throw a lot when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I get RB that are guaranteed touches when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that my WR have upside when building my GPP teams.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my TE gets me 3 catches for cheap or is Rob Gronkowski.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my defense can sack the quarterback.
– It is a must that I take a min-priced kicker when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I include at least some HuLo plays when building my GPP teams.
The Depth Chart – The Plays of the Week
I’m going to list 3 groups of players for each position (except K). These groups are going to be PUBLIC plays, EXPERT plays, and HuLo plays. They are not ranked in any order. I’ll give a little analysis after each position section, but I won’t necessarily give a narrative about each player (I’m trying to keep this relatively short going forward).
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Aaron Rodgers (GB) @ JAX||Matthew Stafford (DET) @ IND||Jameis Winston (TB) @ ATL|
|Andrew Luck (IND) vs DET||Kirk Cousins (WSH) vs PIT||Brock Osweiler (HOU) vs CHI|
|Drew Brees (NO) vs OAK||Derek Carr (OAK) @ NO||Alex Smith (KC) vs SD|
|Blake Bortles (JAX) vs GB||Tyrod Taylor (BUF) vs BAL||Robert Griffin III (CLE) @ PHI|
|Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) @ WSH|
|Dak Prescott (DAL) vs NYG|
|Eli Manning (NYG) @ DAL|
– Week 1 is going to have the largest percentage of casual players of any week of the season. Many casual players are going to flock to two types of QB’s: ones they’ve heard of or ones that have been in the news a lot. Rodgers, Luck, Brees, and Big Ben are big time QB’s from very public teams. Dak Prescott plays for America’s Team and he’s been in the news quite a bit. Eli and Bortles are playing very public teams and have done enough in their careers to be pretty common names for even casual players. Bortles might seem like a surprise on this list but think about how many teams drafted him late in season long last year and won championships with him. That’s going to matter. For what it’s worth, the guy I like most on this list is Drew Brees. I’ll most likely fade the rest of this list except for maybe a small play with a Bortle/ARob combination since I think they’ll be trailing and will need to throw a lot.
– I really wanted Stafford to be a HuLo play but he’s all over Twitter now. He’s been so overlooked that the experts are all over him and I think his ownership is now going to be a little higher than originally expected. What scares me the most about Stafford, even though he’s my #1 GPP QB this week, is that the people who are going to be rostering him are the ones who know fantasy best. He’s a total expert play and you can expect the rest of their lineups to be pretty solid as well. The Derek Carr talk has actually been inversely proportional to the Stafford talk; it would seem like there’s only room for one of these guys to be the “sleeper” play of the week. Both of them are in my top 3 for GPP’s this week.
– This HuLo list has really grown on me since I first wrote this article earlier in August. Jameis Winston now joins Stafford and Carr in my top 3 GPP QB’s. Nobody is talking about him but I think he and Mike Evans are going to blow up this week. They looked great in the preseason and ATL doesn’t impress me at all. A Winston/Evans combo is priced right to really rocket you up a GPP leaderboard this week. The other name that’s really coming on strong for me right now is Brock Osweiler. He, too, looked good this preseason and nobody is talking about this Houston offense for Week 1. Chicago looks to be one of the worst teams in all of football and Houston could put up a big number. It wouldn’t shock me to see Osweiler go for 250-3 this weekend.
My Guys: Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Brock Osweiler, Drew Brees
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Todd Gurley (LA) @ SF||Christine Michael (SEA) vs MIA||Charles Sims (TB) @ ATL|
|DeAngelo Williams (PIT) @ WSH||Gio Bernard (CIN) @ NYJ||Ryan Mathews (PHI) vs CLE|
|David Johnson (ARI) vs NE||Eddie Lacy (GB) @ JAX||LeSean McCoy (BUF) @ BAL|
|Adrian Peterson (MIN) @ TEN||Latavius Murray (OAK) @ NO||Mark Ingram (NO) vs OAK|
|Devonta Freeman (ATL) vs TB||James White (NE) @ ARI||TJ Yeldon (JAX) vs GB|
|Spencer Ware (KC) vs SD||Robert Kelley (WSH) vs PIT|
|Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) vs NYG||Melvin Gordon (SD) @ KC|
|Lamar Miller (HOU) vs CHI|
|Derrick Henry (TEN) vs MIN|
– Much like with the QB’s, the casual public is going to flock to guys they’ve heard of in Week 1 like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Adrian Peterson. I’ve become very sold on Devonta Freeman this preseason. He looks great and he’s going to get a lot more touches than I thought when training camp opened. I was nervous that Tevin Coleman was going to be a nuisance but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Freeman can catch, run, and pound it in at the goal line. He’s one of my top backs today if you’re looking to pay up at the position. I also will have no issue spending up for David Johnson as he, like Freeman, can run, catch, and score from the goal line. I was really excited to use Spencer Ware as my cheap upside play but now that it’s all but official that he’s the man in KC this week he’s going to be the most highly owned player of Week 1. I will still use him but I’m not going to have 100% exposure to him like I would have if Jamaal Charles was going to try to hobble through this game. Derrick Henry might seem like an odd choice on this list but he looked so good in preseason that people might use him even though he has a terrible matchup. I will not be using him and nor should you.
– With the news that Thomas Rawls is going to be on a pitch count this week, Christine Michael chatter is through the roof. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up hitting critical mass to the point where he’s a public play but at this point his ownership should be significantly less than Ware’s. If you’re playing that ownership game, and you know I do, I kind of prefer C-Mike to Ware at this point. The one name that came out of nowhere for me is Latavius Murray. All of the sudden I’m seeing all these experts talk about him on Twitter. I don’t love the matchup (if OAK throws as much as I think they will then it’s DeAndre Washington that should benefit). To each their own but if I’m taking an RB from this game it’ll be Mark Ingram.
– I refuse to get off my Charles Sims prediction. The ATL linebackers can’t cover RB and Sims is dynamic in the passing game. I’m not saying he’ll be a top 10 performer at the RB position, but if you use him I bet you won’t be upset with the value he returns. With all the doom and gloom predictions for Philly you’d think that they didn’t have an incredible matchup this week. The Ryan Mathews chatter has fallen off a cliff and that’s a great thing for us. His matchup is as good as it always was and now he’s going to be relied on even more to take the pressure off of Wentz. I know that Darren Sproles is going to be the main pass catching back for the Eagles but that doesn’t mean that Mathews won’t get his as well. Mathews is one of my top RB plays this week. TJ Yeldon is on this list because I can see JAX getting down early and needing to throw. He’s the RB that should be in the game most for the Jags and it’s possible he could see 5+ targets. If JAX is in any sort of hurry up mode, he’s not getting pulled at the goal line either. I included Robert Kelley based on the fact that we still don’t know if Matt Jones will be ready to play this game. If he’s inactive, then Kelley has a ton of value at his low price.
My Guys: David Johnson, DeVonta Freeman, Spencer Ware, Christine Michael, Ryan Mathews, Charles Sims, Ezekiel Elliott
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Antonio Brown (PIT) @ WSH||Donte Moncrief (IND) vs DET||DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) vs CHI|
|Odell Beckham (NYG) @ DAL||Sterling Shepard (NYG) @ DAL||TY Hilton (IND) vs DET|
|Julio Jones (ATL) vs TB||Randall Cobb (GB) @ JAX||Sammy Watkins (BUF) @ BAL|
|Allen Robinson (JAX) vs GB||Eric Decker (NYJ) vs CIN||Mike Evans (TB) @ ATL|
|Jordy Nelson (GB) @ JAX||Marvin Jones (DET) @ IND||Tajae Sharpe (TEN) vs MIN|
|Dez Bryant (DAL) vs NYG||DeSean Jackson (WSH) vs PIT||Jeremy Maclin (KC) vs SD|
|Brandon Marshall (NYJ) vs CIN||Willie Snead (NO) vs OAK|
|Amari Cooper (OAK) @ NO||Dorial Green Beckham (PHI) vs CLE|
|Brandin Cooks (NO) vs OAK|
|AJ Green (CIN) @ NYJ|
– WR is the new glamour position in the NFL so you can expect all the big boys to be highly owned. They’re all studs and I have no issue with using any of them. With the way that prices are set up right now on FD it’s very easy to build a lineup that has 3 stud WR. You’re just not going to fool anyone when you go ahead and do that. You’re not being sneaky when your Week 1 lineup is Eli Manning, Ryan Mathews, Spencer Ware, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Amari Cooper, Coby Fleener, random $4500 kicker, and the Eagles Defense. That’s about as chalky a roster as you can put out there. Everyone is going to have that lineup or something very similar to it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use this lineup, just know that it’s not a particularly creative one. I actually think it’s wise to have a few lineups where you fade the top WR and go big at RB (see my sample lineups in The Fake Football Cheat Sheets to get an idea of where I’m going with that). If I am going to play a highly owned WR it’s going to be OBJ, Allen Robinson, or Amari Cooper.
– Marvin Jones is one of my favorite plays of the entire week. He’s going to be in a shootout, Stafford loves him, and he’s incredibly cheap. Unfortunately, I had to move him out of HuLo consideration because other people are starting to realize what I’ve realized and that ownership is going to keep going up. Regardless of that, I’m still using him because of the flexibility he gives you at other positions. I know everyone loves Donte Moncrief but I don’t. I still think Hilton is the man in Indy and I’m going down with that ship. While everyone else is focusing on OBJ, it might be Shepard that breaks out this game. Dallas knows what we know and they’re going to try to keep him in check. I don’t know if they can do it but I’ll have some Shepard exposure in case they do. Someone is going to burn them this week. Speaking of burning, that’s exactly what DJax does to weak defensive backs. PIT has a weak secondary. I could see DeSean breaking a long one for sure. He’s super risky but the reward may very well be worth it.
– I know you think I’m crazy, but I just am not hearing anyone talk about DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, or Mike Evans for Week 1. Hopkins is facing arguably the worst team in football, Watkins was a beast to end last year, and Evans/Winston blew up preseason. These are the guys I’m look at if I’m spending up at WR. We can combine good matchups, high production, and low ownership. That’s a match made in GPP heaven. Don’t sleep on the connection Jeremy Maclin and Alex Smith have developed. I think they could be in line for a nice week. DGB is scoring a TD this week but I don’t know if he’ll have enough other production to warrant a play. He’ll be in at least one lineup in case he does blow up against a weak Browns defense.
My Guys: Marvin Jones, TY Hilton, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Willie Snead, Jeremy Maclin
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Rob Gronkowski (NE) @ ARI||Zach Ertz (PHI) vs CLE||Jason Witten (DAL) vs NYG|
|Jordan Reed (WSH) vs PIT||Jared Cook (GB) @ JAX||Martellus Bennett (NE) @ ARI|
|Coby Fleener (NO) vs OAK||Vance McDonald (SF) @ LA||Gary Barnidge (CLE) @ PHI|
|Clive Walford (OAK) @ NO|
|Delanie Walker (TEN) vs MIN|
|Dwayne Allen (IND) vs DET|
– Obviously there’s going to be a high ownership on the Gronk this week because he’s Gronk…and he’s going to Gronk. I just don’t like to spend that much on a TE when he’s got a backup QB and is on the road against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably avoid most of public plays this week since I think I can find some value at a cheaper price. Gronk is also potentially injured and Belichick says he’s “day to day.” I don’t think there’s anything to that but if there is then he’s obviously not a good play. Coby Fleener is everyone’s darling right now and his price is peanuts. He will be the most highly owned TE this week. I won’t use him because we have no idea how he’s going to fit into this offense. I know I might be missing out on a big game and his only low cost of the season but I’ll let others try him out while I go with some players that are a little more settled into their offense. Jordan Reed should have a big game against a terrible PIT secondary.
– The one TE name I’m seeing more than any other not named Gronk is Jared Cook. People are finally waking up to what I wrote about a month ago and that is that Cook is highly athletic, he’s been productive with garbage QB’s, and Rodgers loves his TE. The price is so low that a lot of people “in the know” are going to use him. I’ll definitely be one of them. Accounting for all relevant factors, he’s my #1 GPP TE this weekend. Do you know who likes TE? Rookie QB. Carson Wentz is a rookie QB that will really need to rely on Ertz this weekend. I could definitely see a double digit target game for him.
– One of my favorite plays this week is Jason Witten. He’s very much on the downside of his career but he always does well against the Giants and he’s a really inexpensive way to get exposure to this game without a super high ownership. I also have a slight man crush on Clive Walford and think he has himself a game in a shootout against the Saints. Remember where I said Gronk is “day to day?” If he’s out, then Bennett becomes a great play.
My Guys: Jared Cook, Jason Witten, Jordan Reed
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Philadelphia Eagles vs CLE||Los Angeles Rams @ SF||Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ ATL|
|Kansas City Chiefs vs SD||Houston Texans vs CHI||New York Giants @ DAL|
|Seattle Seahawks vs MIA||Cleveland Browns @ PHI|
|Arizona Cardinals vs NE|
– I know Chip Kelly isn’t in Philly anymore but when he was they were a great DFS defense. They got to the QB and their special teams were always a threat to house one. They’ve got one of the best matchups on the board today and they are pretty cheap. They’ll be highly owned but they should pay off well. SEA is going to roll the Dolphins. Who does Miami have on offense that can scare anyone? This could be a huge game for them. Arizona is a great defense but the public perception of NE is such that people may avoid the Cardinals. Experts won’t as Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center instead of Tom Brady, leading to potentially many more turnover opportunities.
– I’m digging the LA Rams this weekend. The high tempo offense from Chip Kelly means more plays for the defense to sack whomever is starting at QB for the 49ers. LA should put a big hurt on SF and might end up being a top three play of the week on D. One of my favorite plays on defense this week is the Houston Texans. You may not have heard this from me before, but Chicago looks like the worst team in football. This could be an annihilation.
– Atlanta has the feel of a 3-13 team to me. The Bucs could be a very sneaky Week 1 play. I know I’ve said a lot of defense are my favorite play this week, but the Giants might actually end up being that team when it’s time to hit submit next Sunday morning. They’re going to fly way under the radar because this is supposed to be a really high scoring game. What if Dak Prescott actually plays like a rookie? Isn’t that a more reasonable scenario than the one where people are making him out to be the next Kurt Warner? NYG has a great front seven and they should be able to hit Prescott a lot even with that vaunted Dallas O-line. The more I think about it the more I believe that this is going to be a Giants blowout; the kind of blowout that will stop the Dak hype train dead in its tracks.
My Guys: New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans
Like this? Try that!
Entertainment Weekly runs a section on occasion introducing you to new bands by comparing them to current acts. I’m blatantly stealing this idea and giving you contrarian comps for players that I expect to have a high ownership.
|Like This?||Try That!|
|Drew Brees (NO/QB)||Matthew Stafford (DET/QB)|
|Dak Prescott (DAL/QB)||Alex Smith (KC/QB)|
|Spencer Ware (KC/RB)||Christine Michael (SEA/RB|
|Danny Woodhead (SD/RB)||Charles Sims (TB/RB)|
|Dez Bryant (DAL/WR)||Marvin Jones (DET/WR)|
|Antonio Brown (PIT/WR)||DeAndre Hopkins (HOU/WR)|
|Rob Gronkowski (NE/TE)||Jared Cook (GB/TE)|
|Green Bay Packers D||New York Giants D|
Best of luck this week! I hope you all kick some butt and make a ton of money. Make sure to check out all the great content at The Fake Football including the Cheat Sheets (of which I have a part in writing). You’ll find a ton of analysis, data, and sample lineups. It’s well worth the cost of subscription.
Your feedback is always welcome. You can find me on Twitter @bankster17. I’m around all the time for questions, advice, and comments. I answer every single person that sends me a Tweet.